RE: Dembski clarification from Baylor

Date: Wed Nov 01 2000 - 10:39:09 EST

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    I'm going to try and shed some light on the discussion between Bryan and

    Glenn asserted that academic freedom comes with tenure. That really isn't
    true. Tenure in some sense gives total freedom since you can't be fired
    (except for gross misconduct). But an important part of university culture
    is academic freedom for *all* faculty, tenured or not. The expectation is
    that non-tenured faculty will express themselves freely. In practice, there
    is a bit more constraint on non-tenured faculty, because if they anger others
    they are less likely to get tenure when the time comes for that decision.
    But in general somebody in Dembski's *faculty* position would have every
    right to be disagreeable with others.

    I emphasized *faculty* position because administrative posts are different.
    No professor, tenured or otherwise, will lose his faculty position for saying
    something unwise or unpopular. But positions like Deans and Department
    Chairs and Directors of Centers (like Dembski was) don't have this
    protection. It is there that one is expected to obey the boss, be properly
    diplomatic, etc., and one can be removed from those jobs pretty much at the
    whim of the bosses. And one is likely to be removed if one can't get along
    with others or if one isn't properly deferential to one's superiors.

    So Dembski's removal from his *Director* position for his publicly snotty
    comments was to be expected. It is no threat to academic freedom because (as
    explained in the message from Michael Beaty that Glenn posted yesterday) he
    retains his faculty position and can continue to pursue his academic work.
    If they had also canned Dembski from his faculty position, then Bryan's worry
    about academic freedom would be justified, and there might be a case for

    The one factor that I'm not sure about in this is whether there are special
    considerations at Baylor because it is a Christian institution. I know that
    Baylor faculty have to agree to a statement of faith. I wonder if there is
    also a faculty code of conduct? If he agreed to behave in a graceful
    Christian manner toward his brothers and sisters on the faculty, then he
    might be in violation of that.

    Finally, I wonder if Bryan can give some specifics of the "harsh attacks"
    from Baylor faculty on Dembski he mentioned. In particular, I wonder if they
    were personal attacks on Dembski's character (like Dembski's characterization
    of the faculty who opposed the Center as "dogmatic" and "intolerant") or if
    they were harsh things said about Dembski's *work*. That is an important
    distinction (which we've discussed in the past with regard to the personal
    judgments Phil Johnson has been making on Christian scientists who disagree
    with him).

    Allan Harvey,

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